Polling for two Tripura Lok Sabha seats begins amid tight security

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Agartala, Apr 23 (ANI): Polling for two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura began Thursday morning amid tight security and air surveillance by military helicopters.

"Over 30,000 central paramilitary troopers accompanied by state security forces have taken positions across the state to deal with separatist outfits before and during the polling. There is an air surveillance particularly in the bordering areas", Pranay Sahay, Director General of Police told ANI.

One air force helicopter with senior officials and paramilitary troopers is maintaining vigil on the situation, the DGP added.

Sahay said inspite of the tribal guerrillas had not resorted to violence in the recent past; security measures had been tightened to meet any kind of eventuality.

Six central observers, 266 magistrates and 300 micro-observes have been appointed to oversee the poll process and ensure free and fair elections.

About 20,000 poll officials escorted by security forces have been manning 3,008 polling stations across the state, the poll official said.

Besides sealing the India-Bangladesh international border, night curfew has been imposed along the 856 km long territory with Bangladesh.

Subrata Deb, who was one of the first voters in a polling centre said, "The security arrangement is good and voting is going here peacefully."

To avoid the scorching summer heat, people in large numbers including women folk queued up in front of polling stations before voting opened at 7:00 a.m. The voting ends at 4:00 p.m.

"I came here early in the morning so that after voting I can complete my daily household chores. The arrangement is good and security is also fine", added Purnima Dutta another voter.

Over 2.08 million voters, including 1.01 million women, are expected to decide the fate of 19 contestants.

"I am a new voter. I am very excited to vote so I came early in the morning to the polling centre to cast my vote", said Prasanjit Saha, who will vote for the first time in life.

The fight is expected to be a contest between the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front and the Congress.

The CPI-M and the BJP have re-nominated their 2004 Lok Sabha candidates for both seats.

Sitting MPs Khagen Das and Bajuban Reang, both CPI-M central committee members who won in 2004, are again contesting from Tripura West and Tripura East seats respectively against Congress Sudip Roy Barman, a sitting legislator, and Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl, a former legislator. By Pinaki Das (ANI)

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